Pelé set the standards by which footballing greatness is judged | David Goldblatt

In the final seconds of the 1958 World Cup final, with Brazil already 4-2 ahead, Pelé, then just 17 years old, received a long ball near the Swedish penalty area. He caught it on his chest, stunning it so smartly that the ball dropped at his feet. He stepped over the ball and effortlessly back-heeled it to a team mate. With the crowd still cheering this, the ball was lobbed back into the area and, insouciantly, Pelé flicked it with the side of his head into the goal. Within moments, Brazil had won their first World Cup, making the nation’s identity, then better known for coffee,…


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